Salem Seminoles boys varsity basketball coach Noah Harrell saw glimpses of what his program could become last season.
The Seminoles finished the regular season a year ago with a 16-13 record, but made a late season push that saw Salem reach the finals of the Region 8-AAAAA tournament.
While the Seminoles did not end up capturing the region crown, they did make it to the state playoffs, and that’s something Harrell wants his program to build on in 2013-2014.
“In terms of our record, we should have done better than we did, but we did finish the season on a high note and reached the finals of the region tournament,” Harrell said. “We lost in the first round of states, and we’re looking to add to that this year. Winning a game in the state tournament is one of those things our program hasn’t done that we still want to do.
“No mistaking it, I want us to win a state playoff game this year,” he said.
Harrell hopes to do it with a full-court pressing defense that will fuel his offense, as the Seminoles will rely on their athleticism and on-court intelligence to get the job done this season.
“We like to combine our offense and defense,” Harrell said. “Our defense is a full-court, man-to-man system and we’re preaching to our guys to pick up their opponents as soon as the ball comes out. We’re going to be in your face and adding a lot of pressure.
“Our offense will go as our defense goes,” he said. “Getting out into transition and scoring easy buckets are going to be our two primary offensive goals this year. When we get into a half-court set, we’re going to go four-out, one-in, but most of our offense is going to come in transition. I feel like we have a lot of length and a number of athletes we can get out and finish on the run.”
The Seminoles will hope to better last season’s record in part to three returning players. Harrell said that he will look towards seniors Demyon Greenwood and Jousel Lumpkin, along with junior Austin Samuel, to lead the team this year.
“Demyon is a three-year varsity player and he’s grown every year,” Harrell said. “He’s an athletic 6-foot-6 wing player and this year he has seemed to pick up on the things that he needs to do for us to be successful as a team. Jousel is another play that came on strong for us last year as our points guard. He stepped in as a junior last season when we lost some senior leadership and was able to lead us through our late season schedule. I want him to have control of the team and be able to get us going offensively.
“Along with those two guys, we also have a 6-foot-4 wing, Austin Samuel,” he said. “He’s put a lot of work in this offseason and I’m excited to see where he can go this year.”
Harrell said that the Seminoles will get an early season test on the road in Florida when the team travels south to participate in the Kreul Classic Holiday Tournament in Coral Springs.
“One thing we’ve done this year is schedule a national tournament,” Harrell said. “We want to see where we are nationally against other schools in other states.”
Salem will also have its hands full in region competition, Harrell said.
“In our region, Heritage is going to be a threat,” he said. “They have a new coach and had a young team last year, so I’m excited to see what they bring this year. Clarke Central will bring back most of their team, and Loganville and Cedar Shoals will have strong programs. We always want to get a win against Rockdale as well. They may not be in our region, but they’re a county rival and we’re looking forward to playing them.”
As for getting a state playoff win, Harrell believes that this season is the season for it to happen.
“I really feel like we stack up pretty well in our region,” Harrell said. “That can lead to a good seed in the state tournament. I have just a really good group of guys, across all levels. Our depth is really going to help push us to our championship goals.”
The Seminoles begin their season Saturday night on the road at Meadowcreek.